Dear graduate nurses and nursing students,
No matter how young or old you are, soon you will embark on one of the biggest journeys of your life. Nursing will push you to your limits and challenge you like you have never been challenged before.
There will be good and horrible days; some will fly through and others will drag on and on. During your career, you will witness life, death and everything in-between as you care for people during the best and worst moments of their lives.
It is ok to cry or to feel frustrated, disappointed and hurt. Your emotions make you a better person and a better nurse so acknowledge and accept it.
However, what is not ok is bullying, harassing or taking your anger and frustration into the workplace or out on others. No one needs to deal with that side of you, buy a stress ball or punching bag and work through your issues because we don’t need more of that behaviour in our profession, you need to be the generation that changes that.
Look after yourself
Make sure you look after yourself. Every now and again have a ‘me day’ where it is all about you. Your mental and physical health is important. You are no good to yourself when you are exhausted and worn out and being like this can also impact the care you provide, so make time for you!
Never forget that what you do matters, meaning that YOU matter. This will be your motivation and the light at the end of your tunnel on those dark and difficult days. There may be times where it does not feel like it, but your smile and efforts have the ability to make someone’s horrible day a little bit better.
Build up a support network
These are people you can talk, vent, laugh, cry and be silly with. It is absolutely acceptable to be selective of who you decide is in your network. Find people who will build you up but keep you humble and who will have your back but hold you to account.
Have people who will encourage you to dream big and achieve more and cheer you on as your reach your goals and who can also dust you off and pick you up to try again. Just remember that support networks are a two-way street so make sure that you are there for your people too.
Stick your hand up for opportunities that come your way
There is always something new to learn and being a nurse opens so many doors of opportunities and experiences for you, but only if you are willing to take chances. Sometimes this means stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new but always remember every opportunity is a learning experience so take it.
Personally, I certainly wouldn’t have the amazing career opportunities I have had so far if I had not have stepped outside of my comfort zone and taken on new opportunities and challenges.
Most importantly, believe in yourself!
Student nurses, it’s still early days and there is so much in store for you. You can do this. Newly graduated nurses, you have come so far already, remember all those long nights of assessment writing, the stress of practical assessments and the loooooooooonnnnggg hours of (unpaid) clinical placement.
You’ve made it through what you thought were some of the biggest challenges in your life, if you can get through that then consider this the fun part, putting it all into practice. You got this!
You are all coming into the profession at a time unlike any other we have seen. Thank you for choosing to be a nurse. Thank you in advance for the impacts you will have on our nation and our world.
Thank you for sticking through the hard times and for always giving your best, especially on those days when you felt like you didn’t have any more to give but you still went above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you, new nurses and student nurses for the differences you are going to make to our communities.
I wish you all the best in your professional practice and studies.
Sophie Daniel MACN